The effect of a sublethal temperature elevation on the structure of bacterial communities associated with the coral Porites compressa.
Journal of Marine Biology
Evidence points to a link between environmental stressors, coral-associated bacteria, and coral disease; however, few studies have examined the details of this relationship under tightly controlled experimental conditions. To address this gap, an array of closed-system, precision-controlled experimental aquaria were used to investigate the effects of an abrupt 1°C above summer ambient temperature increase on the bacterial community structure and photophysiology of Porites compressa corals. While the temperature treatment rapidly impacted the photophysiology of the coral host, it did not elicit a statistically significant shift in bacterial community structure from control, untreated corals as determined by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of 16S rRNA genes. Two of three coral colonies harbored more closely related bacterial communities at the time of collection and, despite statistically significant shifts in bacterial community structure for both control and treatment corals during the 10-day acclimation period, maintained this relationship over the course of the experiment. The experimental design used in this study proved to be a robust, reproducible system for investigating coral microbiology in an aquarium setting.